The Astute Dog
This is an extraordinary story that happened in the reign of the QingDynasty (the last dynasty of China, 1644-1911). In Wu Town of T¢ng Countythere was a family who raised a dog named Lai Fu
. Lai Fu was a lovely dog. His hair was curly and he had a pair of bigblack sparkling eyes. Everyone who saw him adored him. Not only did the family love him, but also the children living around cherished him as well. Lai Fu not only looked lovely, was also very clever. He knew manytricks, which included looking after the house for the master, holding the vegetable basket in his mouth when the family members went to the market,and accompanying the little master Ah Hui to play with a ball.
"Lai Fu roll the ball here quickly."
"Hm, Lai Fu is very well-behaved"
Truly Lai Fu had been bringing happiness to the whole family. However,there was something very unusual; every midnight he mysteriouslydisappeared, when he returned home the next morning his whole body was soaking wet. One day the master finally discovered this phenomenon, so he secretly followed Lai Fu to find out what on earth Lai Fu had been doing. He was very angry when he discovered the truth.
So the story was: Every midnight Lai Fu secretly ran out of the house,swam across the river to a family living on the other shore. At night he kept watch over that family and went home at dawn. When the master knew the truth, he scolded Lai Fu angrily,
"What a little dog without any conscience! We give you food to eat, how can you at night keep watch over someone else? If you do this again, I am not going to keep you any more."
Upon hearing this, Ah Hui quickly came and said some fine words to defend Lai Fu,
"Papa, please do not scold him any more, he will not do it again",
Ah Hui continued,
"Right, Lai Fu?"
Lai Fu behaved as a little child who had made a mistake, bowing his headall the time and murmuring under his breath. It seemed that he admitted he was wrong. That night the master had a dream. He saw Lai Fu turned into a beautiful little boy.
"Please forgive me, I did not do it on purpose. Because I owe money to the family, I have to go there to keep watch over then at night for them. I still owe them 13 wasn qaan (cash, unit of money to measure copper coins in old China, Ed.) When I finish paying my debt, I will not go there anymore, okay? I will certainly repay you for your kindness."
The next day the master placed 13 wan qaan around Lai Fu's neck. Lai Fu quickly went to the family on the other shore, threw the money into their window, and sped off home. From then on, Lai Fu always was well-behaved and looked after the house. He never went anywhere.
One summer's day Ah Hui took Lai Fu to go swimming in the river. Ah Hui was enjoying himself in the water while Lai Fu was watching with interest. As Ah Hui played his legs suddenly became numb, "Oh no, my legs..." As soon as he had said that he swallowed couple mouthfuls of water. He would have drowned soon. Lai Fu who was on the bank jumped into the river with a splash, swam with all his might towards his little master. Holdingthe boy's pants in his mouth, he swam towards the bank. Then he quicklyran back to the house to inform the family. He saved Ah Hui's life. After this event, the good reputation of ",Lai Fu the astute dog" spread all overthe village.
Extract of The Buddhist Children's Stories, page 23-26, published by TheWhite Cloud Cultural Centre, Taipei Taiwan